K-Drama Review: Goblin (with Spoilers)

I purposely waited until a week after the show finished airing to publish this review. There will be spoilers. So many spoilers. So don’t continue unless you can accept that—because I’m going in-depth on highlights of my favorite scenes. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Every so often, there’s a show that will just seriously blow your mind. The script is thorough and there are already rumors of a potential American remake. The hired actors are true veterans and/or rising newcomers. The fandom skyrockets in a matter of minutes. You have fun whether the scene makes you laugh or cry.

Goblin a.k.a 도깨비 (Doggaebi) a.k.a. Guardian: The Lonely & Great God was that show.

Like many other K-drama (i.e. South Korean drama) fans, I was trying to get over the chosen ending of Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. I’m still bitter even as I type this…

Regardless, all it took for me to know I’d watch this show was knowing that Gong Yoo (best known for his roles in Coffee Prince and Silenced) was one of the main characters. Then I saw that Kim Go Eun (of Coin Locker Girl and Memories of the Sword fame) was the female lead. Add Yoo In Na and Lee Dong Wook into the mix as well?

YES. Yes! Say no more. I want it all.

The first few trailers didn’t really show much. But the fantasy elements being hinted at caught my attention.  A few weeks go by and I get the mobile notification on DramaFever that the first episode is now available.

The amazing intro starts and I find myself setting all of my other projects aside. I pause my phone app and run over to the computer. This is something different…

Seeing Lee Dong Wook walk across the street and that car—it was so cinematic! The music, color choices and filming angles were fresh. You truly felt like you had been tossed into a new world.

Skip ahead to our heroine, Go Eun Tak. She’s a mix of pure innocence while also having the scarred maturity of someone who had to grow up way too fast. Yes, she has a tragic background—the writers are sure to show us how it’s not all that defines her. Eun Tak isn’t afraid to shed tears, but her determination to conquer the next challenge is quite admirable.

Needless to say, her first interaction with our goblin is memorable.

I think my favorite thing about this entire show is its theme of understanding the impact of our choices. Every character has a fleshed out story. You get a mix of reincarnation, fantasy, comedy and drama. A single episode will have you laughing and crying—without if feeling like whiplash.

All of us fans were wondering when the sword was going to come into play. Was it possible for a large element of the Goblin’s story to be revealed early without losing momentum? This scene definitely made us wonder.

Totally loved this twist. It kept us engaged, but the question still remained—when was the sword going to be removed?

Yes. You read the video title right. An episode later and the plot thickens…Seriously though, I looked forward to watching the special effects used in this production. And even though the moment was “over the top” in terms of those vehicles, it exemplified Eun Tak and Kim Shin’s relationship in such a neat way.

Fast forward a few episode and we get to one of my favorite moments of the entire series. The writer did such a great job of fitting in that meta-humor. The scene Kim Shin is freaking out over in the movie theater is from a film Gong Yoo (the actor playing Kim Shin) starred in. Hilarious.

Let me give a quick back story on this scene. Deok Hwa, the Goblin’s “nephew”, has been unknowingly taken over by a deity from time to time. This big reveal gives the Goblin and Grim Reaper Kim some food for thought. And because the supernatural beings in this show flip between mature and their inner 12-year-old—Kim Shin reacts to everything in a reasonable way…NOT.

I don’t want to spoil anything further, so I’ll stop with this last clip:

Yep. We even have a bit of amnesia in the storyline.

Overall, this was a really great series to be able to watch live. I’m so in the habit of waiting for a show to end and then just binge watching it over the weekend. I can’t begin to explain the twisted joy out of being forced to wait for every Friday and Saturday night. The moment the episode ended—I went straight to the forum to read the new theories and latest news.

The show broke a number of records for the station it aired on (TVN). If I recall correctly, they ended the show with 20% viewership—bumping shows like Infinity Challenge and Reply 1988—out of the top spot. Quick impressive.

Here’s a quick TL:DR.

Pros:

  • Completely original storyline.
  • Two main couples that DIDN’T involve a love triangle/square often in K-dramas.
  • Fantastic cast of seasoned actors (and a few newbies to follow in future projects).
  • Record-breaking viewership.
  • Quality production.
  • A number of BTS specials for fans.

Cons:

  • There’s a split among fans about Eun Tak’s age. I count myself among those a bit uncomfortable with it. Yes, she’s of age at the beginning—but was it really too much to ask for her to be even a college freshman? It works with the plot either way.
  • I didn’t touch on it in my recap, but the Grim Reaper/Sunny storyline would have been great to flush out more.
  • The optional “reincarnations looking like the last person” was a little inconsistent to me.
  • A better ending for the Captain Blueberry (aka Park Joong-heon) storyline. You’ll know what I mean if you watch.

So two thumbs up, even with the few criticisms above. Can’t wait to see what the cast gets up to next! Let me know if you end up watching the drama. I’d love to hear your thoughts.